Answers to Questions on Becoming a RE-patriate from Korea

A KBC member posted this message recently:

Without getting into all the details, I've been thinking about repatriating back to my home country of the U.S. in the next year or so. I'd like to know about other people who have done the same. Did you have a job lined up before going back? How severely was your job search handicapped by the fact that you were in a foreign country while making applications?

If you had a Korean significant other, how did s/he handle the transition? Was s/he able to find employment or educational opportunities?

Anything you would do differently if you were going to do it again?

Did you make use of any career coaching or resume writing services?

Maybe the most important question: What would you recommend someone doing in terms of professional development to prepare for this kind of transition?

My life in Korea has had a series of setbacks recently, and I have family things happening in the U.S. that I'd like to be around for. My ideal situation would be to go back to the area of my education, Public Administration, in a way that builds upon my experience in Korea. Any and all thoughts are appreciated.


I answered with these thoughts:

I'm sorry to hear that things haven't been lining up for you in Korea. It is a fact that nearly all expatriates who come to Korea eventually return home, usually within 1-3 years. That was frustrating for me during my early years in Korea since it meant that it was very hard to form long-term friendships with other expats who then went home.

You certainly take some unique experiences and perspectives with you. But I've generally noticed that people who do go back to their home countries don't end up finding a position that perfectly complements their work in Korea. Perhaps it's just that positions back home don't include "Korea" in the job requirements. So, you'll likely need to think in more broad terms about how you've grown during your time in Korea and accept that your next job is unlikely to appreciate what you've done in Korea as much as it should.

That said, if you think carefully about the kind of job you take, you may find ways to bring out the Korea connection once you're in the position. For example, if you were to work for a large company, eventually you could maneuver your way over to the area related to Korean business.

One more recommendation for preparing to return would simply be to start your job search early so that you have something lined up before you get back.

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